How to Get Rid of Scales on Jade Plant
Jade Plants are hardy succulents popular for their robust qualities. However, they can still be susceptible to common pests, including scale. Use our troubleshooting guide to save your Jade from scale pests.
Scales on Jade Plants are easy to identify.
- scale insects look like primordial creatures with tough exoskeletons as shells
- plants infected with scale appear water-stressed with deformed foliage
- identifying and treating scale at the early stages will give your Jade the best chance of survival
Jade Plants (crassula ovata) are renowned for their easy-to-care-for qualities and low maintenance. However, that doesn’t mean they can be ignored entirely.
Like all plants, they are still vulnerable to pest infestations, including scale. Unlike some pests, like aphids and spider mites, scales are not as obvious to see on plants. They are masters at remaining unseen; only when your Jade begins to deteriorate will you discover an infestation.
To help you spot the early signs of scale, we’ve put a guide together, including how to treat scales on Jade Plant.
So grab a coffee, and let’s get into it.
What are Scale Insect Pests?
If you see small pea-shaped bumps on the fleshy leaves or stems of your Jade Plant, there is a high chance you have scale.
Scale are small insects with hard waxy shells that feed on the sap of your Jade. There are up to 8,000 different species that fall into the category of scale insects. So, as you would expect, their colors, shapes, and sizes can range significantly.
Their protective exteriors can change from hard and soft shells to even no shells (like mealybugs).
Here are some pictures of different varieties of scale on houseplants.
They thrive in warm, dry climates, which is why they are partial to houseplants which offer protection from the outdoor weather elements.
We won’t dive into the biological side of scale insects and their entire genus. To learn more, check out this comprehensive resource by Wisconsin Horticulture.
How to Identify Scales on Jade Plants
You can look for a few signs indicating that your Jade Plant has a scale insect infestation.
Water Stressed Symptoms
As we mentioned earlier, if your Jade Plant is looking water-stressed, yet you know you have been providing sufficient water, you may want to inspect your Jade thoroughly.
Water-stressed Jade Plant signs include:
- Yellowing wrinkled Jade Plant leaves
- Foliage not developing or forming correctly
- Stunted growth
- Leaf drop
Presence of Ants
Some scale insects (soft scales or no shells) produce a substance called honeydew by feeding on the nutritious Jade Plant sap.
Actually, the ants and scale insects form a symbiotic relationship. The honeydew attracts ants because they collect it to feed their colonies and queen. Whereby the ants protect the scale insects while they feed. And in return, the ants can harvest as much honeydew as they like. It is the perfect relationship.
Finally, a dead giveaway that your Jade Plant has scale is when you see unusual or abnormal growths on the stems or underside of the leaves.
These are the actual scale insects that have adhered to the stems and foliage while feeding on the sap. It almost looks like they have become a part of the plant.
How to Treat Scales on Jade Plants
Now you know how to spot the signs of a scale infestation, what do you do about it?
Here is a step-by-step guide on effective treatments to eradicate scale from your Jade Plant:
- Quarantine Your Jade – First and foremost, quarantine your Jade Plant away from other houseplants. Like most pests, scale insects can spread to other nearby indoor plants. So, limiting their options and damage is at the top of the list.
- Manual Removal – Use a cotton bud dipped in a cup of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to dab on the shell of individual scale insects. Try not to get rubbing alcohol on the leaves, as it may result in burn marks. If the bugs are too close to the foliage, try manually removing them with a sharp instrument or a hard-bristled toothbrush.
- Apply Pesticide – Once you have removed as many scale bugs by hand, apply a pesticide or insecticidal soap to your Jade Plant. Apply a thorough coating to all aspects of your Jade Plant. This includes the underside of leaves and crevices where the branches meet the main stem.
- Damage Control – A few days after the pesticide treatment, examine your Jade Plant for damaged areas. We recommend removing any weak or injured parts of the plant. This will help your Jade focus its energy on recovery.
- Revive Your Jade Plant – Your Jade will be weakened and potentially damaged from the scale infestation. It is time to rehabilitate your Jade and return it to its original glory. Place it in a position that receives plenty of bright indirect light. Make sure to water and fertilize your plant to replace the lost nutrients and minerals the scale insects stole.